November 10, 2007
Last night while looking for a salsa club, Aiana and I saw several buses pass us that were blaring music and everyone on board was dancing the night away. We learned that the buses were called chivas, and that they used to be the only form of transportation in Brazil. However, nowadays, the open-air, wood-covered, brightly painted buses with the seats removed were used more as moving discotheques than as a standard form of transportation. Aiana and I decided we had to try to get a ride on one tonight.
Boarding a chiva proved to be a frustrating experience. A few people told us to wait near a certain building at around 7:00 and one would show up. It didn't come, and some employees at a nearby restaurant were pretty sure the chivas never stopped there, but they did recommend a new place for us to wait. Once again, we couldn't get on any chivas at the new place, but a few did pass by us, and everyone was screaming and dancing to the loud music. Someone told us to go to a hotel and wait there, but once again, none of the chivas that passed us would stop. I started to think that the chivas never stopped, and that the people on board were in a chiva limbo of perpetual partying.
Just when Aiana and I were calling it quits and walking back to the area with the salsa clubs, we finally spotted a chiva that was picking up passengers! We got on board and were soon driving around the city. There were a couple disco balls, lots of colored lights, and even a DJ to keep the music rocking. We made a stop for booze, and most of the passengers bought bottles of aguardiente, a sugarcane liquor similar to ouzo, black sambuca, or black licorice. We screamed at everyone on the streets because that seemed like the proper thing to do. The party on wheels had begun.
I soon realized that it was impossible to be unhappy on a chiva. I challenge anyone who's angry or depressed to spend five minutes on a chiva and not be in a better mood. Then an idea hit me: Why limit the use of chivas to weekend nights in big cities? Why not make every bus into a chiva? It would be great to go all the way to Bogotá overnight on a chiva. In fact, chivas could be used for all the world's problems. If we could just get all of the world leaders together and put them on a chiva (along with a bunch of the girls of Cali) for the night, I'm confident that within days we could achieve world peace. The power of the chiva is practically unlimited.